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Originally published April 29, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 29, 2007 at 2:00 AM

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"Least likely to succeed" is a success

"I'm not Julia Roberts. " But the real Erin Brockovich, speaking at a sold-out YWCA luncheon April 19 in Everett, still got a movie-star...

Seattle Times columnist

"I'm not Julia Roberts." But the real Erin Brockovich, speaking at a sold-out YWCA luncheon April 19 in Everett, still got a movie-star welcome from 800 guests. Not bad for someone voted "Least likely to succeed" in her high-school yearbook. (Really? That is a an actual category in a high-school yearbook? Mean!)

The environmental activist — known as "the environmentalist with cleavage," her words — encouraged the crowd to not be defined by the expectations of others. Her appearance helped boost the tally from the YWCA Seattle-King-Snohomish County's trio of benefit luncheons to $1.48 million. Also getting a boost: Erin, in a typically low-cut jacket, belted to accentuate her tiny waist. ...

CELEBRITY LUNCHEONS are having the Best Week Ever! Cal Ripken Jr. showed up Monday at the Grand Hyatt bearing gifts — OK, they were autographed copies of his new book, but who doesn't like presents? — for guests at the Seattle Chamber of Commerce 125th Anniversary luncheon. The Hall of Famer was not only generous, but also reportedly funny, charming and "has great eyes." You know who else has great eyes? Theo Epstein. Which has nothing to do with anything, except baseball and cuteness, both important.

Cal earned a standing ovation from the likes of Mayor Greg Nickels, Chamber President and CEO Steve Leahy and Edgar Martinez, who will be inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame on June 2. ...

FOR LACK OF anything better to do — everyone else was spending money and drinking cocktails, which seems like it should be right up my alley, but anyway — I played fashion police with my friend Lauren at the PONCHO Gala Auction last Saturday night. Our winner: Peggy Swistak in a deconstructed, charcoal-colored silk organza confection by Seattle couture designer Luly Yang. We were sold when she demonstrated the detachable skirt, which probably came in handy on an evening appropriately themed "Hot! Hot! Hot!" — the room was uncomfortably warm. The 45-year-old PONCHO may no longer be the biggest party in town, but on this night, it was undoubtedly the hottest. ...

APPARENTLY, THOSE WHO Dress for Success wear Betsey Johnson. The best-dressed girls at the annual Dress for Success Auction at Hotel Vintage Park April 17 were three employees of the Seattle Betsey Johnson store, modeling the designer's whimsical frocks. The cocktail-hour auction paired wine packages with shopping and hotel stays, drawing a well-heeled and mostly female crowd. ...

"I WAS NERVOUS, but I didn't think I was going to win," says the Sorrento Hotel's Adam Dahl, reliving his Hotel Employee of the Year win at the 4th annual Silver Plume Awards. Adam took top honors for his phone skills as the Sorrento's reservations manager, while Concierge of the Year was awarded to James Mulvaney from the Inn at the Washington Athletic Club. ...

CHRISTOPHER KNIGHT (aka Peter Brady from "The Brady Bunch") offered his condolences, via e-mail, after my embarrassing fall at the W Hotel earlier this month (quick recap: I fell down, he picked me up): "As kids, scraped knees, skinned elbows, stubbed toes were all part of everyday life. Somewhere during our growing up we lose our affinity with the ground."

Girl About Town appears every Sunday in Northwest Life. Pamela Sitt: 206-464-2376 or psitt@seattletimes.com

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